Wednesday, 31 October 2018

A Meditation for Samhain

Here's a meditation for Samhain, the Celtic name for Halloween, which takes the reader on a journey through the darkness and back into the light.

Thin Places, Scarred Times

The rain is heavy, and I walk through it, feeling the cold water upon my face. I am holding a stone, and I approach the top of the hill, and there are many people, of many ages, shadows in the night. There are all ages, from young children, to old people, bent with age, and I see their outlines, as the clouds break, and a patch of pale star light shines through.

It is an hour since midnight, and Mars is rising, and the cold wind chills me to the bone. And all around, I feel the presence of the others, all standing there, with hands clasped around stones, and I hear no voices, only the weeping for loss, the tears of sorrow for those departed.

And one by one, we come forward, and place a stone on the summit of the hill, until a mound of stones begins to take shape. Each stone is a memory, each tells a tale of the past, of loss, and of grief. The time of sorrows is upon us.

Now the mound is complete, rising high, a stone cairn raised to those who have died. The clouds have blown over. And there is silence, just the night, and the stars twinkling in the clear sky, and we are there, the sentinels, keeping our watch in the dark.

Then a lady steps forward and bends down, and places a candle at the foot of the mound of stones, lighting it with a taper, and she says:

Remembrance, the night of sorrow here
Light the candle, cast out all the fear

Then she stands and returns to our waiting crowd.

I look into the flickering flame, and I hear the sound of people moaning in their pain, and it grieves me, and as I look closer at the flame, I can see a monk sitting at a table, with a quill in his hand, and across parchment, he is writing; my vision takes me closer, and I can read what he is writing.

"The Black Death has come to our Island, and all is lost. Friends and neigbours take ill, and sicken, burning up with the fever, and death comes, the grim reaper, striking down Seigneur and peasant alike. No one is safe, death spares not even the priest."

And the wind speaks like a whisper

Old boundaries, sacred stones
Imprints in time, echoes past
Live and dead, flesh and bones
Presence remains, there to last

Then I am back again, looking at the candle, flickering in the breeze, at one corner of the mound of stones. Almost at once, an old man, bent with age, wearing a long burgundy coat, shuffles forward and slowly bends down, and places a candle at the foot of the mound of stones, lighting it with a taper, and he says:

Remembrance, the night of sorrow here
Light the candle, cast out all the fear

Then he stands and returns to our waiting crowd.

I look into the flickering flame, and I hear the sound of people praying desperately to survive the night, and I see a soldier, crouching in a muddy trench, writing a letter with the stub of a pencil onto a scrap of paper, and in my vision, I am drawn closer, and can read what is written.

"The air is full of the sound of bombs falling, brilliant flashes light up the night sky, as I wander across the muddy land. Here are ditches full of water, barbed wire, the cries of those dying. When the gunfire dies down, I look up, and I see Mars, the bringer of war, rising in the night sky, casting a baleful light upon our troops."

And the wind speaks like a whisper

Cold equations of deadly strife
Creatures of the mud and slime
Hatred, bloodshed, end of life
Dark places, and scarred time

Then I am back again, looking at two candles, flickering in the breeze, at one corner of the mound of stones. Suddenly, a young boy steps forward and bends down, and places a candle at the foot of the mound of stones, lighting it with a taper, and he says:

Remembrance, the night of sorrow here
Light the candle, cast out all the fear

I look into the flickering flame, and I hear the sound of people crying in fear, and I see a woman. She is sitting at a table, in a house, and outside the window, I can see the moon upon the waves, waves breaking on sharp rocks off the coast. She is writing a diary, and my vision takes me closer, and I can see what she is writing.

"The rocks were treacherous, and we heard the crash as the packet steamer hit a hidden reef. We saw those on deck, running, trying to get into lifeboats, or flinging themselves overboard into the waves. And few were saved, but many perished in the bitterly cold waters of the bay."

And the wind speaks like a whisper

The borderlands of dark and light
Where sensitives can still feel
A knowing with an inner sight
Crossing from real to unreal

The three candles are burning brightly, and a man steps forward, holding a long staff of elder wood, and wearing a white robe that reaches to his feet, and a gold band around his waist. He pushes back his hood, and I see long snow white hair, and beard, and dark eyes that blaze like fire. And he speaks:

Come now, take your fear away
All the sorrows, past and today
And the regrets, of things unsaid
And all the grieving for our dead.

And beside the mound of stones, we see a great mound of wood, of branches collected, and placed to make a bonfire. He lights a taper from one of the candles, and touches it to the kindling wood, and very soon, the bonfire is blazing out with light, the wood crackling as it burns. And I smell the burning wood, and in swift glimpses, I see flash before me, the wonders of the world.

I see the vast rainforests, teaming with life
Herds of wildebeest crossing the vast rivers of Africa
Elephants crossing the great African plains
A snow leopard, a creature of grace and beauty
Running across the slopes of the Pamir Mountains
The great whales turning in the sea, singing a joyous song
Sleek otters swiftly swimming beside a river bank
And the rain falling softly on Glastonbury tor
Where a rainbow arches across the sky

And a voice cries

Sing, heavens! Shout for joy, earth!
Let the mountains burst into song!

I see the foundations of the world,
The dance of life and death and rebirth,
And all my sorrows melt away.

Now the flame of the fire burns brightly, warming me, and sparks fly high in the air, and now I look into the bright core of flames.

I look into the heart of the fire, and the heart of myself
And I see those whom I have loved
And all who are now lost to me, beyond the veil of death
And all the regrets, all the times lost, all that was unsaid, leaves me
And rises in the ashes, caught in the breeze
And I see them, one by one, faces in the flames
And they are smiling, glad
And I know they are at peace
And I too feel calm, at rest.

And we gather round the fire, and dance, as the wood burns away, and watch the ashes, which are carried up in the currents of hot air, in the flames, ashes rising into the night sky, memories carried up to the starry night.

And a voice cries:

To give to those who mourn
Let there be joy and gladness instead of grief
A song of praise instead of sorrow

Dawn is breaking as we leave the glowing embers, heading down the hillside, the grass damp with dew, and the new day is starting, full of hope and promise. The sun rises over the hill, and the soft sunlight caresses us with warmth. Somewhere, in the distance, a blackbird begins to sing.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

FOI on Compromise Agreements with Senior Officials

I’ve been doing a bit of fishing. On 20th August, Bailiwick Express reported that:

States officials have decided to keep the government’s most senior employee's contract locked behind closed doors, following a request by Express to release it under the Freedom of Information Law. They concluded on Friday that the employment terms of Charlie Parker, whose £250,000 base salary is paid by taxpayers, were ‘personal information’ and should not be made available for public scrutiny. As the first FOI request of its kind, the decision sets a precedent for how future applications for employment details of high-earning senior civil servants will be handled.

They commented:

The news comes as Mr Parker, who is spearheading the largest ever shake-up to the public sector, faces increasing scrutiny over his contract terms. A Ministerial Decision signed off by then Assistant Minister for Population, Senator Paul Routier, took the extraordinary step of handing him full residency rights due to “the consistency of his track-record in delivering change within a number of substantial and relevant organisations.”

One obvious area is whether or not, buried in the print are some kind of “golden handshake” clauses like that invoked by Bill Ogley when he received £546,337.50 – a cool half a million pounds – based on what can only be seen as an escape clause negotiated into his contract, and signed off and known about by Senators Frank Walker and Terry Le Sueur.

It was largely due to Terry Le Sueur’s lax management of the increasing fraught relations between Mr Ogley and Senator Ozouf that the former decided to leave, taking a sizable pot of money with him.

Clearly, it is in the public interest to know what ticking time bombs may be built into Mr Parker’s contract, if anything like that existed, and that was the reason for asking my question, which – as might be expected – got an apparent brush off.

In fact I didn’t ask whether compromise agreements would no longer be issued, which was Jeremy Macon’s question in 2017, I asked whether any were currently in use with any senior staff, including of course, Mr Parker, but not identifying as such who the senior staff were.

In other words, Jeremy Macon was asking whether they would no longer be issued, I was asking if any had been issued. I can see a world of difference between the two questions, but having reviewed my initial question, I can see that it could be made clearer.

It is rather muddled. I had blamed the FOI staff but on reflection, it was my own fault.

I’ll have to ask again and make the difference clearer.


While the information about Charlie Parker's contract of employment is excepted under Data Protection, please confirm that the policy of not having compromise agreements amounting to so called "golden handshakes" in contracts, able to be initiated by any senior staff (as exemplified in the clause in Bill Ogley's contract) are not currently in use in any States contracts with senior officers.

As this was supposed to be a States policy, asking for confirmation in a general question about all senior staff should not be breaking Data Protection, and is also clearly in the public interest, even under GDPR.


This matter was addressed in a States question response last year and a link is provided for your information.





Did the States Employment Board give an undertaking that compromise agreements would no longer be issued after the previous Chief Executive of the States of Jersey left and, if not, why not?


The States Employment Board (SEB) has not given an undertaking that compromise agreements would no longer be issued. As was explained in answer to a written question on 17th January 2017, in cases where it is appropriate, the agreed termination of a contract of employment may be accompanied by an associated compromise agreement.

Such agreements are carried out in line with the Utilisation of Compromise Agreements Report issued by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) dated March 2012 and follow up Report dated 5th May 2016.

The 2016 report states – “The ability to negotiate termination of employment within an agreed framework, and therefore the use of compromise agreements, is a vital tool of management, in both the public and private sectors.”

Monday, 29 October 2018

Jersey Development Company: A Critical Overview

The Remit.... And How it Changed

"The Company was originally formed to manage the development of the St. Helier Waterfront area on behalf of the States of Jersey. In 2004, The States of Jersey transferred land holdings to the Company at market value as a capital contribution totalling £20.2m. In 2010 the States adopted P73/2010 which set a new remit for the Company, changed the name of the Company and the Memorandum and Articles of Association. "

New remit: "The principal activities of the Company and its subsidiaries (together, ‘the Group’) are property holding, property development, car park operation and estate management in Jersey."

This is remarkably "fuzzy" and vague, allowing the company to do almost anything, although curiously the ability to hold an "Arctic Village" with Ice Rink would seem to be stretching matters.

So we have Property Holdings, Andium and JDC all competing!

Public / Private - A Taxing Conundrum

"The Group is exempt from paying Income Tax in Jersey. On 19 October 2007, the Minister for Treasury and Resources exempted the Company and its fully owned subsidiaries from income tax under Article 115 of the Income Tax (Jersey) Law 1961 as the profits of the Company are to be expended wholly and exclusively to improve and extend public infrastructure and works for the good of the public of the Island. "

But the remit has changed? Surely this should be revisited? Now it is paying no income tax but competing against the private sector. Surely that is not a level playing field?

It also begs the question of when the millions to be returned to the States will ever emerge under the new remit!

Jersey College for Girls

“In addition to providing more housing stock and restoring the historic building, the Company is predicted to secure a profit in excess of £5m on this development which will be paid out as a dividend to the States of Jersey”

Thats' good to know, because it 2015 the States sold the site to the Jersey Development Company for for £1.5m – despite a local developer offering £5m for the site - and that was 3 years ago. I wonder how much "in excess" it will be, and how it will compare to the £5m adjusted for inflation?

"By investing in direct development, rather than selling land to developers, the Company ensures that returns to taxpayers are improved as well as retaining control over design and quality." 

Isn't there something called Planning anyway for "retaining control over design and quality"? And a Minister for Planning?

"The first units will be ready for occupation in April 2018. Phased completions will take place thereafter until final completion in May 2019. 100% of the profit generated from the development will be paid to the States Treasury as a dividend in 2019."

Believe that when I see it! In the meantime...

States Subsidy

"The States of Jersey receive £45,000 per annum (2016: £45,000) in rental in respect of La Fregate at Les Jardin de la Mer and passes this amount onto the Company as a contribution to the upkeep of Les Jardins de la Mer public park."

"In September 2007, a lease was entered into for Liberation Station whereby rental income receivable from the States of Jersey was at a level the Directors considered equivalent to market rates. The total recognised in the consolidated statement of comprehensive income for the year ended 31 December 2017 in respect of this contract is £100,000 (2016: £84,166)"

"The Company receives £759,000 (2016: £759,000) from the States of Jersey in respect of a licence to operate Les Jardins Car Park."

So... the States pay money to the States of Jersey development company... but don't get any dividend from the company?

The IFC  (International Finance Centre)

"The IFC has finally come to life after years of planning, with the first building having been completed and occupied and providing our new tenants with the only super-prime grade A office space in Jersey. "

Oh yes, what about the RBC Dandara site??! Is that not super-prime Grade A office space? Whatever that is and however it can be quantified is not explained, which is typical of a cliché – but doesn’t it sound good! Better than iconic or world class, which are both by now rather tired clichés..

A google search reveals only about a dozen mentions of "super-prime Grade A office space", half of which are from the Jersey Development Company, and none of which have any definition.

Expanding Empire

"JDC is also in dialogue with its shareholder to undertake the regeneration of any surplus States owned assets such as St. Saviour’s Hospital and South Hill."

They want to get there instead of Andium, the logical developers of the site for housing. That, after all, is Andium's SOLE REMIT.

No Surprises?!!

"The Company has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with its Shareholder which emphasises a ‘no surprises’ culture and specifies those strategic and other issues for which the agreement of the Shareholder’s representative should be sought. The shareholder function is exercised by the Treasury and Resources Minister, whose duty is to act on behalf of the States of Jersey."

So what about this....

"In one of his final acts as Treasury Minister before he hands over the reins to his successor at the start of June, Senator Alan Maclean has signed a ministerial decision authorising the sale of 50 per cent of the planned 280-apartment Horizon development at the Waterfront for £6.25 million to
Group Legendre, which will enter into a 50/50 joint venture agreement with the SOJDC."

Maybe not a surprise to the Senator, who said "the joint venture had been discussed since October but an agreement had not been reached until recently" but certainly a surprise to the States Assembly! And wasn’t the Minister supposed to be acting on behalf of the whole States in ensuring they didn’t get any surprises?

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Turning Back the Clock

Are there lessons to be learned from having to turn the clock back as we did last night? G.K Chesterton, writing in “What’s Wrong with the World?”, tells us that there can be. He is not writing against technological progress but against ideology that sometimes purports to be "progress", while in fact being anything but that. Progress in itself was not an end, he always said, unless you had an end in sight, clearly articulated, and which could be judged.

The mantras of our modern times are economic growth, consumption, upgrades to the next technological fix, but all these come with a price, and some are not sustainable on a finite planet with finite resources. These are the tyrannies of our day, and perhaps too little challenged.

Turning back the Clock
by G.K. Chesterton

We often read nowadays of the valour or audacity with which some rebel attacks a hoary tyranny or an antiquated superstition. There is not really any courage at all in attacking hoary or antiquated things, any more than in offering to fight one's grandmother.

The really courageous man is he who defies tyrannies young as the morning and superstitions fresh as the first flowers. The only true free-thinker is he whose intellect is as much free from the future as from the past. He cares as little for what will be as for what has been; he cares only for what ought to be.

And for my present purpose I specially insist on this abstract independence. If I am to discuss what is wrong, one of the first things that are wrong is this: the deep and silent modern assumption that past things have become impossible.

There is one metaphor of which the moderns are very fond; they are always saying, "You can't put the clock back." The simple and obvious answer is "You can." A clock, being a piece of human construction, can be restored by the human finger to any figure or hour. In the same way society, being a piece of human construction, can be reconstructed upon any plan that has ever existed.

There is another proverb, "As you have made your bed, so you must lie on it"; which again is simply a lie. If I have made my bed uncomfortable, please God I will make it again.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

All Souls Night

Halloween comes mid way between two weekends, so this year I thought I'd bookend it with my Saturday poems, one spooky, one of grief for the departed - All Souls, followed by All Saints. This is the first, and it aims to be more impressionistic that anything, conjuring images of a haunted time of the year, and certainly with a hint of menace as well.

All Souls Night

The wandering spirits of the night
In Moon so full and bright and round
The shadows on the graveyard ground
Beneath the mound, there lurks a wight

The shipwreck rising, in mist so white
Full fathom deep, the sailors drowned
The wandering spirits of the night
In Moon so full and bright and round

Around the dolmen, flickering sprite
Shades of departed, now unbound
A hooting owl, the only sound
The chanting of a funeral rite
The wandering spirits of the night

Friday, 26 October 2018

This is Jersey - 1979 - Part 15

From 1979 comes this holiday guide - "This is Jersey". This is a flat brochure which is larger that the later glossy designs, and it doesn't have nearly as many pages - 16 double sided in all, including front and back covers.

It does provide a very interesting snapshot of the tourism scene in 1979, just as it was more or less at its peak, just before Bergerac launched, and before the package tour market and cheap holiday destinations abroad made Jersey's prices suddenly more expensive and the bottom fell out of the market.

Tourism is today rebuilding a new approach geared to the lifestyle of the modern tourist. It still has plenty to offer, but the old style of tourism probably won't sell today. But here's a chance to capture that flavour.

This is one of the few places when the date of the brochure is mentioned!

The New Mediterranean was a hotspot for locals and tourists looking for a good night out, but later became a different kind of visitor attraction. It is currently a base of operations for Jersey Pearl.

The Big Night Out at the New Mediterranean, Five Mile Road, certainly lives up to its name. The show stars the irrepressible comic impersonator Dustin Gee.

He is ably supported by another laughter maker Dave Ismay, And also by the visually and vocally delightful Gai Dunlop, and the highly professional song and dance routines of Joe Chisholm.

The show line up is completed by the Tommy Tucker Dancers and the Barry Taylor Sound.

Dustin Gee: real name Gerald Harrison (24 June 1942 – 3 January 1986), who performed under the name Dustin Gee, was an English impressionist and comedian, best known for his double act with fellow comic, Les Dennis.

Dave Ismay: In the 1970s he worked as Bob Monkhouse's warm-up man on ITV's 'The Golden Shot'

Ismay had met Monkhouse when both appeared at a Birmingham nightclub, later contrasting his own "stuttering, stumbling ineptitude" with the star's "immaculate style, polish, erudition and wit". Despite the disparity the pair remained close. Ismay, having been at Monkhouse's bedside when he died in 2003, co-authored Bob Monkhouse: Unpublished!

David Robert Ismay, comedian, agent, author and journalist: born Birmingham 1 May 1946; married firstly Sheila (marriage dissolved, deceased; one son, one daughter), secondly Dodie; died Leicester 17 April 2013.

Also at the Sunshine Hotel is the attractive Birdcage Bar, where the comedy vocal guitarist provides free entertainment nightly.

Tony Maiden was an actor, known for Keep It in the Family (1971), The Adventures of Black Beauty (1972) and Outer Touch (1979). He died on February 17, 2004 in Torrevieja, Alicante, Spain.

This was on the Five Mile Road, St Ouen.

2012: PROPOSALS to demolish a former night spot and tourist attraction on the Five Mile Road and replace it with houses have been submitted to the Planning department. The owners of the Château Plaisir at the north end of Five Mile Road want to build three homes on the site, which lies within the newly established Coastal National Park.

JEP report:

Once one of Jersey's premier nightspot, Château Plaisir was a top tourist destination in the 1960s.

Last year demolition crews moved in to begin the first phase of a project to build three homes at the prime beach-front site. During the work, a wrecking crew uncovered a water-pumping bunker built by the Germans during the Occupation which had last been seen in the 1950s. Part of the building was latterly used to provide a temporary home for the Holidays for Heroes Jersey charity shop.

It also housed Micro World, a museum of artefacts created in miniature which I once visited. 

Thursday, 25 October 2018

And so to bed....

And so to Facebook end of day quotes, clustered on the theme of grief this week

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from Sara Teasdale:

Two thousand years—much has gone by forever,
Change takes the gods and ships and speech of men—
But here on the beaches that time passes over
The heart aches now as then. 

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Lloyd Alexander : 

A shade of sorrow passed over Taliesin's face. 'There are those,' he said gently, 'who must first learn loss, despair, and grief. Of all paths to wisdom, this is the cruelest and longest. Are you one who must follow such a way? This even I cannot know. If you are, take heart nonetheless. Those who reach the end do more than gain wisdom. As rough wool becomes cloth, and crude clay a vessel, so do they change and fashion wisdom for others, and what they give back is greater than what they won.” 

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from David Steindl-Rast:

“The light of love shines “in the darkness” (John 1:5), in suffering, in confusion, in all that we will never understand. Love makes darkness itself shine. This opens altogether new possibilities for dealing creatively with the shadow side of reality. Words can only serve as pointers; we must put this to the test in our own dark hours. Those who have done so, those who have suffered lovingly, have discovered the transformative power of love. 

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from 
Abraham Lincoln:

In this sad world of ours sorrow comes to all and it often comes with bitter agony. Perfect relief is not possible except with time. You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better. But this is not true. You are sure to be happy again. Knowing this, truly believing it will make you less miserable now. I have had enough experience to make this statement. 

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Madeleine L'Engle:

Grief has to be worked through. It is like walking through water. Sometimes there are little waves lapping about my feet. Sometimes there is an enormous breaker that knocks me down. Sometimes there is a sudden and fierce squall. But I know that many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. 

And so to bed... quote for today is from Anna Letitia Barbauld:

So fades a summer cloud away;
So sinks the gale when storms are o'er;
So gently shuts the eye of day;
So dies a wave along the shore.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Disability Strategy and the Lack of A Teacher for the Deaf

Disability Strategy and Teaching Deaf

The first annual progress report of the Disability Strategy Delivery Group has been published on 23rd October 2018.

One of the small but significant features is an expansion of the Love Jersey App:

“the Love Jersey app now allows Islanders to instantly report problems with disabled access across the Island, including inaccessible curbs and street features”

It also mentions

“an updated Special Educational Needs Code of Practice was published in February, ensuring high quality provision and promoting inclusion for children with disabilities”

However the page on the Educatioon site only has a link to the Code published in October 2017.

This says: “Your child’s teachers will use the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice and the guidelines for Ordinarily Available.”

“Specialist support from health visitors, educational psychologists, speech and language therapists or specialist teachers, such as a teacher of the deaf or vision impaired”

Unfortunately the last teacher of the deaf in local schools went to prison and is now on the sex offenders register, and no replacement has been found.

In Primary Schools, a recent freedom of information request gives numbers for “Number of primary school children taught British Sign Language Level 1 qualification”

It goes up and down, but in 2012,22, 2013, 9,2014, 22, 2015,under 5, 2016, 10

There are also figures for number of primary school children who sat British Sign Language Module 101 examination

2012, 15, 2013, 9, 2014, 19, 2015, under 5, 2016, 9

And finally, number of primary school children who passed British Sign Language Module 101 examination
2012, 15, 2013, 9, 2014, 19, 2015, under 5, 2016, 9

Clearly there is a demand, and there are exams to show a level of attainment that will help deaf children in later life

But who is going to teach them now?

This has been brought to the attention of the authorities, but ironically seems to have fallen on deaf ears. The response of the last COM has been to say they have adequate trained staff. But they don't. You need staff trained to at least BSL Level 3, and they don't.

That's just fobbing off criticism where the real position is that since the last teacher left abruptly, there has been no one to take his place. Will there be changes now? We shall have to wait and see.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Radio Drama Reviews

The Republicans: Richard Nixon 

1970. President Nixon has announced the invasion of Cambodia, and student protests have ignited across the US, with National Guardsmen shooting four dead at Kent State University. Washington is on high alert. But when the insomniac President wakes up at 4a.m. to see defiant students gathering at the Lincoln Memorial, he walks over to talk to them, taking his White House butler with him. The Secret Service are left struggling to catch up, as the night takes a bizarre turn.

This may be based on a true incident, but the framing narrative, of a discourse by Nixon’s therapist – who appears to be from Germany by his accent – is terrible. It really doesn’t portray the Nixon of the tapes, instead we have a much maligned and misunderstood Nixon, who is trying to do the best for the country and who is basically a decent person who would not do anything wrong. Notably this narrative centres on one incident, and avoids Watergate.

This was not the foul mouthed paranoid President of the tapes that emerged from the Whitehouse, which to my mind, was far more accurately portrayed by Jason Robards in the TV series “Washington Behind Closed Doors” as the fictional President Richard Monkton (clearly based on Nixon).

I struggled to the end, but didn’t really like it much. 

With My Little Eye

The new UK Prime Minister appoints a former spook to control her untrustworthy spy network and protect a Russian dissident under threat. Bob Trench is a veteran of international undercover missions, cool under pressure, wise, wry and laconic. He's a loner determined to save his career and his reputation as he faces a terrible dilemma.

This was a terrific drama which reminded me a bit of the Ipcress File. Pip Torrens as Bob Trench is just brilliant as the world weary spy. There’s an underlying vein of black humour in the cynicism of his exchanges with others, including his interrogators. The pace and suspense never slacken, and it comes to a very neat conclusion. 

I told You I Was Ill

1. Going, Going, Goon by Toby Hadoke - Spike is called to a Heaven he doesn't believe in, in a synthesis of fact, fantasy and supposition.

2.2 Clowns, 1 Trumpet by Lee Mattinson - combines clownery and childhood in a bizarre birthday party.

3. Deadline by Jessica Hynes, Hynes stars as a writer on the edge of a nervous breakdown as she attempts to reach her deadline.

Performed live at the University of Hull’s Middleton Hall. Part of 'Contains Strong Language'. A season of poetry and performance from Hull.

I have to say that “Clowns” and “Deadline” are probably terrifically good – if you haven’t had the wonderful treat that “Going, Going, Goon” first. This uses a surrealist, but darkly funny plot, to flesh out the inner turmoil and depression within the brilliance of Spike Milligan, and takes you on an inward journey through his past. I won’t spoil the conclusion except to say it is extremely satisfying, poetic, magical and pitch perfect. Hadoke has shown himself a fine playright for exploring the hidden depths of the psyche in dramatic exchanges, and this is no exception.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Women in Jersey Politics

Senator Kristina Moore was commenting in Saturday's JEP about women in Jersey politics, and I remember including her in an email to former Senator Philip Ozouf in January 2018, when I pointed her to the site

Here is the information from that site, but supplemented by extra searches of my own, and adding newer politicians missed from that list.

If anyone has any more information, please send it and I will update this. I have also be placed a direct link on the top left side of my blog to it. Dates of the older members time in the States would be most helpful, and any presidency.

Recent update 24/10/2018 - thanks to all who sent in more names

As well as this blog, the work of Corrie Stein in establishing a women's refuge against the male dominated establishment who didn't and wouldn't see the need is documented by me here.

One thing worth noting is that prior to around 2000, States members were not paid, and had not even expense allowances (the first significant breakthrough in democratising the States so any women could stand).

This list also includes those who were not elected, such as Assistant Greffier, and Solicitor General. It is notable that there has never been a female Attorney-General.

Women in the States

Ivy Forster. 

First woman elected to States 1948 as deputy in St Helier.

Ivy Forster was tried by the Germans during the Occupation for assisting an escaped forced worker, and sentenced along with her sister Louisa Gould and brother Harold Le Druillenec to serve a prison term in France. She managed to fake contageous illness and remained in Jersey, but her sister died at Ravensbruck concentration camp and her brother was sent to Belsen.
Miss Enid Le Feuvre, MBE
Deputy of St Helier
Founder of Jersey Society for the Deaf

Gwyneth Huelin 
Circa 1970-83 President of Committee of Public Health Gwyneth Clare Huelin
She was Senator from 1966. (d. 1992).

Jane Sandeman 
Significant in leading fight against flooding of Queen's Valley
1983-circa 89 President of Committee of Housing J.P. Sandeman

Enid Quenault 
Circa 1984-96 President of Committee of Broadcasting Enid C. Quénault
Deputy of St Brelade
Connétable of St. Brelade 1978-2000.

Iris Le Feuvre 
1989-ca.98 President of Committee of Education Iris M.Le Feuvre
Deputy of St Lawrence She was Connétable of St. Lawrence 1987-99.

Margaret Beadle 
1989-circa 97 President of Committee of Cottage Homes Margaret Beadle
Deputy of St Brelade, failed to be re-elected.

Anne Baal 
1989-circa 98 President of Committee of Elizabeth House Anne Baal
She was Senator.

Corrie Stein 
1989-? President of Committee of Postal Affairs Corrie Stein
Circa 1998-2002 President of Industrial Relations
First elected to the States on 17th December 1981 as Deputy of Grouville. Re-elected as Deputy of Grouville in 1984 and 1987. Elected as Senator in July 1989. Re-elected as Senator in 1990 and 1996. Failed to be re-elected.

Ann Bailhache 
1992-circa 97 President of Committee of Overseas Aid Anne Bailnache
She was Deputy.

Cynthia Horne
Deputy of St. Helier

Shirley Baudains
Deputy of St Helier

Stephanie Nichole 
1994-08 Her Majesty’s Solicitor General Stephanie Claire Nicolle
2006 Acting Attorney General

Evelyn Pullen 
Circa 1998-2000 President the Committee of Education Evelyn Pullen
Deputy of St Saviour

Jennifer Bridge
First elected to the States as Deputy of St Helier No.2 on 9th December 1999 and re-elected on 12th December 2002. Retired from the States in December 2005.

Wendy Kinnard 
Circa 1998-2002 President of the Committee of Legislation Wendy Kinnard
2002-05 President of the Committee of Home Affairs
2005-08 Minister of Home Affairs
First elected to the States as Senator on 12th December 1996 and re-elected on 12th December 2002. Senator 1996-2008, when she did not run for re-election. Also Vice-President of the Home Affair's Committee until 2002. In December 2005 a Ministerial System was introduced.

Imogen Nicholls 
1998-2002 President of the Committee of Tourism Imogen Nicholls
First elected to the States as Deputy of Grouville on 9th December 1993. Re-elected in 1996 and 1999. Failed to be re-elected.

Catherine Newcombe 2000-02 Greffier of the States Catherine Mary Newcombe
She was Deputy Greffier 1991-2000 and her task was to be secretary of the parliament and government.

Jacqui Huet 
2001-05 President of the Committee of Overseas Aid Jacqui Huet
2005-08 Assistant Minister of Transport and Technical Services
Deputy 1993-2008, she has been member of various Committees
First elected to the States as Deputy of St Helier No.3 on 9th December 1993. Re-elected in 1996, 1999, 2002 and 2005.

Debbie De Sousa
First elected to the States as Deputy of St Helier No.2 on 9th December 1999 and re-elected on 12th December 2002. Retired from the States in December 2005.

Anne Harris
2002- Deputy Greffier of the States Anne Helen Harris
Appointed as Assistant Greffier of the States in October 2000 and Deputy Greffier of the States on 5th November 2002.

Lisa Hart
Sworn in as Assistant Greffier on 5th June 2007. Appointed as Deputy Greffier of the States on 1st May 2014.

Carolyn Labey
2005-08 Assistant Education Minister with responsibility for Culture Carolyn Labey
2011- Assistant Minister of Economic Development
2018 Assistant Chief Minister, Minister for International Development, Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Jersey), Chairman of the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission
First elected to the States as Deputy of Grouville on 12 December 2002. Re-elected as Deputy for Grouville in 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2018.

Celia Scott Warren
2005-11 Assistant Health and Social Services Minister Celia Scott Warren
Elected Deputy in 1999, she has been Member of the Health and Social Services Commisson and Vice President Privileges and Procedures and of the Health and Social Services Committee. (b. 1951-).
First elected to the States as Deputy of St Saviour No.1 on 9th December 1999 and re-elected in 2002 and 2005. Failed to be re-elected.

Jackie Hilton 
2005-08 Assistant Housing Minister Jackie Hilton
2008- Assistant Home Affairs Minister
Elected Deputy in 2002 and was among others vice-president of the Planning and Public Services Commission.
First elected to the States as Deputy of St. Helier No. 3 and sworn into office on 12th December 2002. Re-elected as Deputy of St. Helier No. 3 in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014. Decided not to stand in 2018.

Shona Pitman
First sworn to office as a Deputy for St Helier No. 2 on 5th December 2005 and re-elected in 2008 and 2011.

Anne Pryke 
2008-10 Assistant Planning and Education Minister Anne Enid Pryke
2010- Minister of Health and Social Services
2014 Minister of Housing
First elected as Deputy of Trinity and sworn to office on 5th December 2005. Re-elected as Deputy of Trinity in 2008, 2011 and 2014. Decided not to stand in 2018.

Sarah Ferguson
First elected to the States as Deputy of St. Brelade No. 1 and sworn to office on 12th December 2002. Re-elected as Deputy of St. Brelade No. 1 in 2005. Elected as a Senator and sworn to office on 8th December 2008. Lost her seat in October 2014. Re-elected as a Senator in the Senatorial by-election in September 2016. Re-elected as a Senator in 2018.

Anne Dupre 
2008-11 Assistant Education, Sports and Culture Minister Anne Teresa Dupre
Sworn in as Deputy of St Clement on 8th December 2008. Failed to be re-elected.

Deidre Mezbourian 
2008-11 Assistant Health and Social Services Minister Deidre Wendy Mezbourian
First elected as Deputy of St. Lawrence and sworn to office on 5th December 2005. Elected as Connétable of St. Lawrence and sworn to office on 8th December 2008. Re-elected as Connétable of St. Lawrence in 2011, 2014 and 2018.

Juliette Gallichan 
First elected as Deputy of St. Mary and sworn to office on 5th December 2005. Elected as Connétable of St. Mary and sworn in on 8th December 2008. Re-elected as Connétable of St. Mary in 2011 and 2014. Failed to be re-elected 2018.

Judy Martin 
2008-11 Assistant Health and Social Services Minister Judith Ann Martin
2005 President of PPC
2011- Assistant Health and Social Services Minister
2018 Minister of Social Security
First elected to the States as Deputy of St. Helier No. 1 and sworn to office on 5th May 2000. Re-elected as Deputy of St. Helier No. 1 in 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014.

Angela Jeune 
2008-circa 11 Assistant Social Security Minister Angela Elizabeth Jeune
Sworn in as Deputy of St Brelade No. 1 on 8th December 2008. Failed to be re-elected.

Laura Rowley 
2011 Treasurer of the States Laura Rowley

Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard
First elected as Connétable of St. Saviour and sworn to office on 14th November 2011. Re-elected as Connétable of St. Saviour in 2014 and 2018.

Susie Pinel 
Circa 2011- Assistant Social Security Minister Susan Jane Pinel
2014 Minister Social Security
2018 Treasury Minister
First elected as Deputy of St. Clement and sworn to office on 14th November 2011. Re-elected as Deputy of St. Clement in 2014.

Zoe Cameron
First elected to the States as Senator 03/11/2014 Resigned 12.07.16

Louise Doublet
First elected to the States as Deputy of St. Saviour No. 2 and sworn into office on 3rd November 2014. Re-elected 2018.

Kristina Moore 
Minister for Home Affairs 2014 until 2018
First elected as Deputy of St. Peter and sworn to office on 14th November 2011. Re-elected as Deputy of St. Peter in 2014. Elected as a Senator in 2018.

Tracey Valois 
Minister for Education from 2018
First elected to the States as Deputy of St. Saviour No. 2 and sworn to office on 8th December 2008. Re-elected as Deputy of St. Saviour No. 2 in 2011. Re-elected to the States as Deputy of St. John in 2014. Elected as Senator in 2018.

Jess Perchard 
Elected Deputy of St. Saviour No.3 and sworn into office on 1st June 2018.

Carina Alves 
Elected as a Deputy in St. Helier No. 2 and sworn to office on 1st June 2018. Member of Reform Jersey.

Mary le Hegarat 
Elected Deputy of St. Helier No. 3 and 4 and sworn into office on 1st June 2018.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Memories of the Mary Harris Chapel at the University of Exeter

The Mary Harris Chapel at the University of Exeter was consecrated in 1958, and this year celebrates its Diamond Jubilee.

I have fond memories of attending there, although it has to be said that the sermons tended to be very long and rambling. The only one I remember at all is one by the Old Testament Lecturer on the book of Job, which was fascinating, looking at the way in which it dealt with the problem of suffering, the different layers from different authors, all of whom were putting their own ideas in about the central problem: why do good people suffer?

Ken Moss, the Chaplain from 1973 to 1983,  also taught chemistry at the University, and was the Reverend Dr Ken Moss, having a doctorate in chemistry. 

I once amazed a fellow student who was studying organic chemistry by asking him if he had to learn German, and if they still used Beilstein, a famous a sixty volume encyclopedia of chemical compounds and reactions. How did you know about that? I explained that actually it featured in one of Isaac Asimov's Mystery and Murder stories, a short story called ""What's in a Name?". Asimov, of course, had begun his career as a University research chemist, so the facts were all correct.

I can't remember a lot about Ken, apart from the fact that he was Anglo-Catholic and firmly opposed to women priests. I also remember one quotation from him - "Never tell a lie, but don't harp on the truth", which I rather liked, and his argument that as students we should be able to concentrate and happily digest a 30 or 40 minute sermon. That may have been true, if they had been well constructed, but rather like a movie which you feel has expanded beyond its proper length, they would ramble off on all kinds of diversions, and contain what appeared to be a lot of padding.

Now I know that the great orators like Wesley spoke for hours, and of course even our Jersey rectors back in the 17th and 18th century were prone to be long, but I do wonder how many people listened all the way through. Even Wesley, good as he is, does rather go on and on for a long time, and one wonders how much was remembered by his congregations.

For the fact finding geek, Wesley’s sermons vary in length. The early sermons, around 6,000 words long, might take between an hour and an hour and a half to preach. The later sermons are all under 5,000 words.

Even so, 40 minutes is still a lot of time to concentrate. So I'm not entirely convinced by Ken's argument.

Sadly Ken died in 2018. His obituary notice in the paper read:

Revd. Dr Kenneth Charles Moss Passed away peacefully on the 18th March 2018. Loving husband, Father of 3 and Grandfather of 9. A Celebration of his life shall take place at St Peter & St Mary Magdalene Church, Barnstaple, North Devon on the 6th April 2018 at 1.15pm. Donations in Memory of Ken will be for Medecins sans Frontieres c/o A.D Williams Funeral Directors, 9a Fore Street, Northam, Bideford, Devon, EX39 1AW

Returning to the chapel, the communion service was a Sung Eucharist with a student choir, and after there would be coffee and biscuits in one of the University cafe areas (closed on Sunday, hence available).

Hymns were for the most part fairly traditional, with the most modern probably being "Sovereign Lord of All Creation", with phrases that might have been culled from John Robinson's "Honest to God" (1963) - "ground of being", "Jesus Christ, the One for others".

It was written by Stewart Cross in March 1964 for students at the University of Manchester. Entitled 'Renewal', the hymn responded in part to the debate initiated by John Robinson's book Honest to God published in the previous year.

The evening saw much small numbers, sitting in a circle, for compline, where the hymn "Before the Ending of the Day" would be sung to a plainsong chant, unaccompanied. There would be no sermon.

I rather liked that gentle way of saying goodbye to the evening, although I could never quite master the art of sitting cross-legged. Although it is not sitting cross-legged, sitting with chairs in a circle in the winter months in the lady chapel at St Brelade's Church, for Celtic Evening Prayer, has much of the same feeling.

Twice I went with the Exeter University Chaplaincy / Anglican Fellowship in a coach to the  big religious service at Glastonbury, an open air service in the grounds of the ruined Abbey. This photo is either from 1979 or 1980. — with Alex Scott, Roger Reader, Tony Bellows, Alan Griffin, Robert Fox, Rodney Annis (Assistant Chaplain) and Ken Moss (Chaplain).

Roger Reader was training for the priesthood in the Church of England, rather high church, and I believe moved to the Roman Catholic Church where he is still a priest, and Bishop's Prison's Adviser.

I've no idea what happened to the rest of them!

Rodney Annis (he in the scary hat) was quite a lot younger than the other clergy, and seemed in some ways more on our student wavelength. He was rather good fun to talk to, and sometimes invited small groups of students round to his house.

I remember him telling an anecdote about a party he and his wife went to, and after the introductory drinks, people started throwing their car keys on the table! He and his wife immediately realised that it was a wife swapping party! Needless to say they excused themselves and left hurriedly. I still don't know if he was spinning us a yarn, or if it was genuine!

We played a board game called "Risk" at his house - do people play board games any more? And had a nice meal, and probably rather too much to drink. I do remember chatting to a friend on the way back to the student accommodation and, not looking ahead of me, walking bang into a lamp post. I have only done that twice in my life - the other was a Junior Societe trip to France where again there was wine available - and both times it was very painful!

I remember we made up half the rules as we went along, much to the annoyance of Andrew Sinclair, another of my University friends who was there, and who was a stickler for the rulebook. He was a good singer and I remember going to see the first performance of Handel's Messiah in the Northcote Theatre where he was taking part.

It was rather fun going off in the coach to Glastonbury, wandering round the Abbey ruins by myself  (which have an undefinable "aura" to them), taking part, and then after the service itself decamping to the pub to take off our robes and have a half pint of shandy before the return journey.

Back in "civilian" clothes in this picture, I was something of a student rebel. While most students wore casual clothes, I had a tie, v-necked jumper, tie, umbrella, a pipe and of course the obligatory Sherlock Holmes deer-stalker hat. That was my way of being non-conformist and not go with the tide of fashion. Quite elementary!

Robert Fox, Fr Rod Annis, Tony Bellows, Tony Rich

The Chapel was linked to the Anglican Fellowship, one of a number of student clubs which you could join up with. For one year I shared responsibility on the committee for publicity, which also meant preparing posters for any talks, and doing coffees after the morning service. 

At the end of the term there was a gap with no visiting speaker, and I suggested a social evening, where we would start at one pub, and move as the evening progressed to another, and another, making sure that we had to sit with different people in the group each time. This went in the diary as "social evening" but really it was a pub crawl by any other name!

Looking back, I sometimes reflect on what I might like to say to my younger self. And looking these pictures again, it is hard to recognise that naive, fresh-faced, young man that I was. Shy, bookish, although still with a wicked sense of humour -

I still remember watching "Not the Nine O Clock News" with my friends.

I was definitely not quite as eccentric as I am now, although finding a photo in which I whitened my hair with talcum powder and puffed at an unlit pipe, I'm not quite so sure.


I'm hoping to see "First Man" tonight, the movie about Neil Armstrong and the moon landing. It seems therefore appropriate to write a poem reflecting on that. The poem references Kennedy's speech (which echoes throughout), the Apollo 8 crew's reading of Genesis, when we finally saw the Earth as a "Blue Planet", one planet, our only home, the impetus of the cold war, and Frank Sinatra!

I remember being woken in the middle of the night by my dad, putting my dressing gown on over my pyjamas, my slippers on and coming down stairs to watch our old 425 line black and white TV set, and this grainy picture as Armstrong went down onto the moon's surface for the first time.

Those were the golden years, where technology was just beginning to change the world - "the white heat of technology" as Harold Wilson put it, and when it seemed the future was opening up in all sorts of ways that a previous generation would have dismissed as science fiction.

I am so reminded of this time by Fred Hoyle's words: "It was an uncertain generation, not quite knowing where it was going In a sense it was an heroic generation.,"


We choose to go to the moon
Apollo launching, blaze of flame
We will get there, get there soon
The Cold War, space race game

Not because it is easy, but hard
Around the moon, see Earth rise
Flying behind our own backyard
In the beginning, becoming wise

The Cold War: we intend to win
Tranquillity landing, all is calm
For all mankind, for all our kin
First steps, the sweetest balm

Sinatra Sings: Fly me to the moon
No longer just a crooner’s tune

Friday, 19 October 2018

This is Jersey - 1979 - Part 14

From 1979 comes this holiday guide - "This is Jersey". This is a flat brochure which is larger that the later glossy designs, and it doesn't have nearly as many pages - 16 double sided in all, including front and back covers.

It does provide a very interesting snapshot of the tourism scene in 1979, just as it was more or less at its peak, just before Bergerac launched, and before the package tour market and cheap holiday destinations abroad made Jersey's prices suddenly more expensive and the bottom fell out of the market.

Tourism is today rebuilding a new approach geared to the lifestyle of the modern tourist. It still has plenty to offer, but the old style of tourism probably won't sell today. But here's a chance to capture that flavour.

Back in 1979, discos and nightclubs abounded, popular venues including the Skyline Disco at the Hotel de France; Les Arches Hotel; the Deep; the Blue Fox; the Royal Hotel, David Place; Lord's; the Hotel de L'Europe; Adrian's at L'Etacq, formerly the Bal Tabarin and, before that, La Mare du Mont.

I unearthed this rather nice quote:

I played bass for the Simon Raverne Trio 1968-1969. We toured Europe doing us bases ect. and was resident band at Les Arches in Jersey. I have very fond menories of that time. Simon showed me how to be not only a musician but how to be a showman. He's influence still helps me run a good show. And i thank him for the lessons he gave me.

And also this one:

I knew and played drums with Geoffrey Glover-Wright for 3 years when he was Simon Raverne in Jersey, CI and Dubai, UAE.

We stayed at Les Arches Hotel, Gorey where we rehearsed and played each winter... During the summers, we played at The Cabin in The Watersplash on Five Mile Road, St. Ouen's...

We were contracted to play for 6 months at The Sahara, Dubai, but after 3 months, Geoff quit to manage The Safari club.

Simon Raverne's material consisted of old rock 'n' roll (Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley), Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond. Between gigs with Geoff (as Simon Raverne's band), Richard, Taffy and I played as 'Cigarette and Burning Boots' at The Deep, St. Helier...

We had to wear black suits and bow-ties and would open the show as a trio. Taffy would sing whatever were current hits (Eagles).

One night, just for the fun of it, Taffy and I were dressed in 'drag' by our girlfriends and went on stage without telling Geoff.

Normally, he would not look at us ~ just step up on stage and start playing but when he finally noticed us, he said nothing at all.

Despite being popular with both tourists and Islanders, Les Arches Hotel at Archirondel was converted into flats

A few memories gleaned from the internet.

"I do remember the Hawaiian Showbar, but I was very young when I went there back in the 70s. It has houses/flats built on the area now."

"I was asking because I spent the summer playing the drums there,shame it had to go. I was Rebecca Storms drummer at the Hawain Showbar."

"I think I saw the Mighty Atom there - perhaps the comedian Bobby Knoxall - there were quite a few cabaret shows - its a shame there is not the market for that now."

"I remember the Hawaiian, as I was the night porter at the Penguin Hotel, which was set on its own, halfway down the cliff face of the bay, and I had to pass the Portelet Hotel, Hawaiian Bar etc on my way to work every night. They were great times, and I had very many wonderful times in them all while working at the Penguin back around 1970/1."

"The Hawaiian Bar was later turned into a Chinese Restaurant, and friends of mine used to go often as the Chinese loved to hold card schools after closing time, they loved to gamble. After about 4 years as Chinese it closed down and the land was sold to developers."

Candlewick Green were a 1970s five piece English pop group. They are best known for their song, "Who Do You Think You Are" (1974). Their name is an allusion to children's TV animation series Camberwick Green.

After winning the television talent show Opportunity Knocks, Candlewick Green signed to Decca Records, and had a hit single with the song "Who Do You Think You Are?", written by Des Dyer and Clive Scott of the band Jigsaw. The tune reached no. 21 on the UK Singles Chart in early 1974.

With varying line-ups, Candlewick Green continued performing until the early 2000s, before finally retiring from the international stage

Below is a clip from their hit single.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

And so to bed...

And so to bed... my regular sign off on Facebook, collated with pictures added, and this week on the subject of friendship.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from E.B. White:
“Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing." 

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Dean Koontz:

Some people think only intellect counts: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it. But the functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy. 

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from Héloïse d'Argenteuil:

If the portraits of our absent friends are pleasant to us, which renew our memory of them and relieve our regret for their absence by a false and empty consolation, how much more pleasant are letters which bring us the written characters of the absent friend. 

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from Angie Karan: 

In times of adversity, you will realize who is there for you. The struggle is real and those who walk with you with love, are honourable true friends. Be thankful for the friends and loved ones you’ve got. 

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Muhammad Ali:

Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything. 

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Gregory of Nyssa :

Heaven itself may be trodden by man: and the creation, in the world and above the world, that once was at variance with itself, is knit together in friendship: and we are made to join in the angels' song, offering the worship of their praise.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Frank Walker replies to criticism of Andium Homes.

Frank Walker, as Chairman of Andium Homes, recently addressed criticism from Rob Duhamel both by direct quotes and by a letter.

One fact in his reply to the JEP is significant.

“Mr Duhamel made no mention of the five per cent interest Andium pays on loans from the Treasury – far above current rates attainable in the private sector – nor of the significant sum of money Andium returns to the Treasury each year – some £28 million,’ he said. “‘This far exceeds the £16 million paid to us in income support for those of our tenants who qualify for this benefit. Andium is therefore a significant net contributor to the States and certainly not a drain on Jersey taxpayers.’

I noticed this flow of funds from the States to Andium in income support some time ago, and how some of it is returned. The net figure is still substantial, but the accounts of Andium do not mention the income support component of their rental income in their accounts which I strongly feel they should. This is something the Chairman should address.

My analysis of the figures can be found here:

It is to Mr Walker’s credit that he does acknowledge this element of “money-go-round” in the above statement.

Below I publish in full his letter in the JEP. It makes very good points, but the one weakness which I would like to see addressed is that of “the rigorous process the board went through to establish appropriate salary levels” which I am sure did take place, but unfortunately leaves the reader in the dark as to how it works.

Without going into exact details of sums involved, which might open the door to headhunting and competitors poaching executives, what is missing, which hope Mr Walker will supply in due course, is the methodology of how this is done.

I give two examples after the letter, one from Valerie Williams and Stephen Grimaldi in “A Quick Breakdown of Strategic Pay” (Workforce, December 1999, and another from Kevin Gaunt in “Consultation - A Toolkit for Setting Remuneration” (New Zealand Management, March 2008)

To give the basic steps by which “comparable salary levels” can be evaluated would not break any commercial confidentially, but it would provide a more substantial basis for understanding the salary increases, which from the perspective of the general public, lacks appropriate transparency. That does need to be remedied.

Letter from Frank Walker in reply to Rob Duhamel
Published in JEP

This is the first time that I, as chairman of Andium Homes, have felt it necessary to comment on an article that has appeared in the media. The recent article by Robert Duhamel (JEP 5 September) was particularly disappointing. It was so inaccurate and misleading that I felt a response was necessary.

One of his major criticisms was that our chief executive and finance director are overpaid. I couldn't disagree more. They are both highly competent individuals running a multi-million pound company.

Although some dismiss the provision of affordable housing as only a social enterprise, it is much more than that. Of course, landlord services form a major part of what we do, but so does the complexity of asset management, site acquisition and capital procurement, running into many millions of pounds.

The capital programme is some £500 million, over ten times what it was just four years ago, when the provision of social housing rested with what was then the Housing Department. It has an income of £52 million and assets under management in excess of £800 million.

The executives, together with their teams have produced an impressive set of results. The restructuring of the company and the services we offer our tenants have been constantly evolving throughout a very busy four years and certainly the Board of Andium is delighted with the progress that has been made and the culture of achievement. This has not happened by accident

Regrettably, Mr Duhamel carefully avoids the delivery of outcomes and instead takes a scattergun approach to his criticisms, which completely misses the mark. Certainly, he has no knowledge of the new private-sector type of employment that our executives have signed up to, the rigorous process the board went through to establish appropriate salary levels, the performance against which the executives are measured or the way in which they are held to account by the board.

Instead, his article refers to redundant civil service posts and equally historical pay levels.

We think our two executives are doing an outstanding job, and that, following four years when they were paid at considerably lower levels than their position and performance justified, they are now, when measured against any comparable salary levels, appropriately remunerated.

Importantly, these are two local people who have progressed through the organisation on merit and performance, which should be celebrated not vilified.

There is a housing crisis in Jersey, with far too many young people being unable to afford to buy their first home. Andium has already announced that, given the requisite planning consents, it will build 2,000 new homes by 2025, of which at least 1,000 will be affordable first-time buyer homes.

This is by far and away the most ambitious housing programme Jersey has ever seen and will make a real difference to the lives of many young Jersey families.

Andium Homes has a great future. The board of Andium is committed to working with the Treasury Minister and all States Members to ensure that it plays its part in delivering the strategic aims of the new government and to providing high-quality homes for our tenants and for first time buyers-

Examples of setting salaries in an organisation

Example 1: Valerie Williams and Stephen Grimaldi in “A Quick Breakdown of Strategic Pay” (Workforce, December 1999

First, the appropriate competitive market must be identified. Companies must consider various scope factors including their industry, geographic location, total employment, and annual revenue when identifying their competitive market. In addition, it's important to consider not only business competitors, but people competitors as well-- those organizations you get talent from or lose talent to, regardless of their size, industry or location.

The second step is to conduct an assessment of market pay practices for similar jobs within the identified competitor group. Accurate job documentation and defining the duties, skills and impact levels of each job analyzed is critical to the quality of the data. In a market assessment, the organization compares its current pay levels to competitor pay levels for jobs of similar size, scope and impact level.

As the third step in this process, using the results of the market assessment as the basis, a company can develop a framework-typically referred to as a salary structure-for managing competitive base pay levels for all jobs across the organization.

A salary range usually consists of a salary minimum, maximum and a midpoint or control point. The minimum represents the lowest competitive rate for jobs within that range and is typically used as a starting point for less experienced employees. The maximum represents the highest competitive rate for jobs in the range. This is typically a premium market rate where top performers and those with extensive experience may be paid. The midpoint or control point represents the competitive market rate for fully performing employees in jobs assigned to that range. The midpoint provides a guideline for slotting various jobs and individuals in appropriate salary ranges.

A typical salary structure is comprised of a series of pay ranges or bands that reflect competitive rates of pay for specific jobs in the marketplace and provide an opportunity for salary growth. Jobs of similar value from both a market and internal perspective are grouped together. Then a competitive salary range is developed around the market rates for those specific jobs.

Example 2: Kevin Gaunt in “Consultation - A Toolkit for Setting Remuneration” (New Zealand Management, March 2008)

Remuneration setting is a key role of management and an essential part of any manager's toolkit. To do this well you need to know the size and scope of the job and its relationship with the other roles in the organisation. That is, is it bigger or smaller? This lets you match the job with an appropriate salary compared with other roles. Then you need a reference base for attaching an appropriate salary level. You also need some flexibility to be able to set an appropriate salary for new and as yet unproven recruits and yet also, at a later date, be able to recognise and reward their growth and development in the role.

There are some essential tools that are required for this to work. 

First you need a job evaluation system that enables you to "size" each job in your organisation. 

The second tool is a suitable salary survey appropriate to your industry. This needs to be in a format that enables you to use your job evaluation results to identify similar roles in the salary survey. This gives you a ballpark salary for the job and helps you see the movement in the market since the last survey. 

Then you need a remuneration policy, which is usually signed off and overseen by the board in their governance role. The policy will describe the salary range for each evaluated role and explain how the organisation intends to implement the policy and what the boundaries are. The final tool is to have a good performance management system in place that enables assessment of the accomplishments of an individual which can then be used to determine a salary change based on performance.

To address your concern that there is a finite limit to how far someone can go in the salary range for their job, the point here is that you do need to be able to reward performance in the role, but once a person is doing the job well and has been doing so for some time there needs to be a top-end limit to their salary otherwise you will end up paying too much for the role in question